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Could you please describe what a participle is (past and present) how it is used, and how to identify it. I have read the description in my dictionary but have not quite understood.
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Don't be too upset about participles! Emotion: smile Mostnative English speakers have no idea what they are.

Participles are a kind of word called a "verbal." A verbal is a verb that takes the place of another part of speech (noun, adjective, etc.)

The PRESENT PARTICIPLE is a verb that ends in "ing" and describes a continuous action. The PAST PARTICIPLE ends in "ed" and describes an action that has already happened.

Participles are modifiers, like adjectives. Participles are useful because they can describe the behavior or action of a noun instead of just what qualities it has. This will help you identify them!

Example (present): "***, the astronaut turned a cartwheel."

"Waving" is modifying "astronaut". To see how "waving" is modifying "astonaut", you can ask yourself a question: "which astronaut?" answer: "The waving astronaut."

Example (past): "***, the runner collapsed at the finish line."

"Exhausted" is modifying "runner". question: "which runner?" answer: "The exhausted runner."

Participles are difficult because they can:

1) take objects like normal verbs
2) modify whole phrases
3) be confused with another kind of verbal called a gerund.

Example of a participle taking an object: "Clutching a camera, the astronaut moved toward the window." (the noun "camera" is the object of the participle "clutching")

Example of a participle modifying a whole phrase: "All things considered, the space shuttle is an amazing machine." (the participial phrase before the comma modifies the rest of the sentence after the comma)

A gerund is another kind of verbal that is used as a NOUN, but the confusing part is, it ALSO ends in "ing" or "ed". You must be careful not to confuse the two:

Examples:

"Flying is something humans cannot do." GERUND ("flying" is used as a noun)
"I have never seen a flying human." PARTICIPLE ("flying" is modifying "human")

Cases where a gerund ends in "ed" are rare and a little confusing, so I omit them. If you want an example, I can explain it seperately.

Is that clear? If it is not, I'm sure someone else can give a good explanation.

-Tony
Example (present): "Waving, the astronaut turned a cartwheel."


That's never a participle. It looks like a plain past tense verb to me, with an implied preposition ("while"). To be a participle, it would have to be in the position "The waving astronaut turned a cartwheel", surely?

Rommie
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Oh right - it's an ADVERBIAL participle. Gotcha.

Rommie
Yes...perhaps I should have given an example where the participle was not adverbial. I seem to have made both my simple examples adverbial.

For the benefit of the person who asked the question:

"The *** astronaut turned a somersault."

Is really the more common useage. Sorry if that was confusing. But:

"***, the astronaut turned a somersault."

Is also a perfectly good use for a participle. Emotion: smile

In the first case, we are specifying which astronaut. In the second case, it is already clear which astronaut we are talking about, but the question/answer test still helps us identify the participle, even in this position.
Hi, Chamelon, I was hoping you could enlighten me on the subject of participles. I have read extensively on their uses, but I cannot find one definite answer for my quandary.

What is the difference between the types of particples? Sometimes they are merely reduced relative clauses; sometimes they are adverbial, and sometimes they are verb clusters (ing coordination or free modifier).

Is what I have correct? This is what I have ascertained thus far, but I'm sure I could have misunderstood what I have read. Could you provide some further information for me.

Here is one site explaining the types, but I'm sure I have read of contradictions:

adjectival function (reduced relative clauses – active)
  1. Susan Hackmann, age 14, from Baltimore, showing a Dachshund, was 3rd.
  2. I asked an old guy running a fishing station if the boat was Moore's.

  3. adverbial function
    1. (While) running across the field I saw a beautiful horse. (adjunct)
    2. Generally speaking, those higher in occupational status suffered less acutely than those lower down. (disjunct)


    3. -ing co-ordination
      1. He returned and closed the front door, making sure it was unlocked.
      2. The sales assistant was happy to bring down bag after bag from the shelves, explaining that their stock is made in Singapore.
      3. We play a fun game, trying to remember the day’s coaching tips.
      4. Most people have left early to avoid the rush hour, meaning there are only 18 people taking part in the end-of-weekend mixed doubles tournament.


      5. It would be much appreciated, cheers.
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adjectival function (reduced relative clauses – active)
  1. Susan Hackmann, age 14, from Baltimore, showing a Dachshund, was 3rd.
  2. I asked an old guy running a fishing station if the boat was Moore's.

  3. Feeling scared, he backed away from the barking dog. - Some would call this adjectival but I am sure other would call it adverbial. It's all in the label. As long as we know how to use it properly, that's all that matters.

    adverbial function -3 and 4 are adverbial, no questions.
    1. (While) running across the field I saw a beautiful horse. (adjunct)
    2. Generally speaking, those higher in occupational status suffered less acutely than those lower down. (disjunct)


    3. -ing co-ordination - I'd call these participle clauses ( but have an adverbial nature)
      1. He returned and closed the front door, making sure it was unlocked.
      2. The sales assistant was happy to bring down bag after bag from the shelves, explaining that their stock is made in Singapore.
      3. We play a fun game, trying to remember the day’s coaching tips.
      4. Most people have left early to avoid the rush hour, meaning there are only 18 people taking part in the end-of-weekend mixed doubles tournament.
Hi, Goodman

Thanks for that! I think you and I are on the same wavelength, which is hard to be sometimes in English!

What do you think about these ones, using the same terms as above?

Below, it appears that the two ing phrases could possible be reduced rel. clauses, even though they are more likely ing coordination clauses.Your thoughts?

The restaurant serves excellent sushi, providing flavor you can’t get anywhere else and making you want to come back for more.

The adviser urged us to be sensitive to our neighbours, implying that we might offend someone verbally.

Here however, the verb phrase (ing phrase) acting as a free modifier doesn't appear to be a reduced relative clause.

Here is another sentence, and this one could be a reduced relative clause example or ing coordinating...

Julia was standing on the corner, stroking her pet monkey.

Could be turned into a relative clause:

Julia, who was stroking her pet monkey, stood on the corner.

Your thought son tese would be great!
Feeling scared, he backed away from the barking dog. - Some would call this adjectival but I am sure other would call it adverbial. It's all in the label. As long as we know how to use it properly, that's all that matters.

I wouldn't call this one adjectival. I see it adverbially. "Because I was feeling scared, he backed away..."

But yeah, this one is up for debate, or perhaps it is subjective..
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